DCHS Coordinating with City Partners to Support Afghan Refugees; How Residents Can Help
A DCHS CONNECT FEATURE
August 27, 2021--The Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is coordinating with local resettlement agencies, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD), Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and community partners to plan for and provide support to returning U.S. citizens and incoming Afghan refugees who have started to arrive in the Northern Virginia region, including Alexandria.
The U.S. has so far evacuated from Afghanistan over 100,000 U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and at-risk Afghans, including Afghans who have or are eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) which are given to Iraqi or Afghan nationals who have been employed by the U.S. Armed Forces or a contractor of the U.S. government.
Evacuees are being flown from Kabul to locations throughout the world for processing and screening. U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (including those with SIV status) and some at-risk Afghans have started arriving in the U.S., including Dulles airport. DCHS staff are among regional volunteers who are providing emergency services to U.S. citizens, who are eligible to receive emergency repatriation services, including various support services.
At-risk Afghans, including those who are at various points in the SIV application process, are currently being transferred to Dulles Expo Center and then to various military bases throughout the Commonwealth and U.S., where they will receive services and complete status processing.
It is currently unclear how long it will take to process the evacuees, but it is expected that the many will receive refugee or SIV status and settle in the U.S., including Alexandria. If an evacuee receives a refugee or SIV status, they will be served by a network of local resettlement agencies who have a cooperative agreement with the Department of State to provide specific services and assist with expenses. In Northern Virginia, these are Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (CCMRS), Lutheran Social Services of the Northern Capitol Region (LSSNCA) and Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC).
DCHS, ACPS, AHD and community partners are coordinating with the resettlement agencies to provide support, such as help in finding housing and employment and facilitating enrollment in school and social services.
The resettlement agencies have received an overwhelming amount of support from local communities, including Alexandria, but current immediate needs include:
- Temporary and long-term housing. The resettlement agencies provide financial support towards rent but without credit or work history, it can be difficult to secure leasing for newly arriving families. Call CCMRS at 703.520.4011 or view more information. Sign up to provide or donate towards temporary or permanent housing with LSSNCA.
- New household items and furnishings or select gently used furniture. View a CCMRS list for needs and contact information, a link of household furnishings needed on Amazon or sign up to volunteer or donate through LSSNCA.
The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is coordinating with the Department of Defense to provide support to incoming refugees at military bases; those wishing to support or donate to those efforts should visit the VOAD website for opportunities.
For more information about how local programs and services for refugees and immigrants, visit the DCHS Resources, Programs and Services for Immigrants and Refugees website; check back frequently for updates on how to volunteer or support incoming refugees and SIVs.